Christmas Cake
October 16, 2020 1:24 AM   Subscribe

Start Your Christmas Cake Now! Get it in the oven! As Christmas Day is only ten weeks away, it is time (still time, or traditionally) to contemplate either the construction of the cake centrepiece, or the purchase of same. Which to choose? Go with Delia or Mary? Cognac or brandy to the rafters? Do you want it moist or beautifully moist or brandy-moist or very moist in your mouth? Perhaps an old-fashioned look? Or Hebridean? Or add marmalade or soak the fruit in alcohol for a few days or ten or even longer? Don't forget to regularly feed the cake alcohol. Eat with a slice of cheese, perhaps some Wensleydale or a bit of Cheshire. Alternately, some christstollen, or a panettone, and consume while listening. (sorry the first Christmas post is late this year)
posted by Wordshore (20 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Missed one by gfrancie (who is a good Twitter follow). There's definitely a cohort of people in England who spent early October soaking their fruits in brandy. not a euphemism
posted by Wordshore at 1:44 AM on October 16

Gay Byrne's Christmas Fruit Cake Recipe: I think Gaybo tried this monologue first on his morning radio show in 1974 and it became a staple of the Irish Christmas season for the next 20+ years. CW: alcohol.
Me, I've bought my annual bottle of Olde Sporran Scotch from LIDL and have been lurrying it into the cake for a week now.
posted by BobTheScientist at 5:51 AM on October 16 [2 favorites]

I will note that this is for British Christmas cake. The only time I've ever had a "Christmas cake" was in Japan- it's a light shortcake with strawberries and cream (traditionally - you can go out and find all sorts of fancier ones if you like). A perfect addition to the traditional KFC bucket and chanmery (which I found out while looking for the spelling is supposed to taste like peach, not the inside of a poorly sanitized industrial chemistry vat).

My wife's family makes a Dundee cake for several holidays, including Christmas. Although contrary to the instructions here, they do add some booze. But unlike the Christmas cake, it's made the day of or the day before, not kept for weeks on a steady diet of alcohol. (Although they leave off the almonds- I didn't know they were part of the cake until just now.) I will attest that it is quite a good cake for Christmas.
posted by Hactar at 6:40 AM on October 16 [4 favorites]

Ha! I was just thinking this morning that it's getting on time to put together my grandmother's Kentucky moonshine cake recipe.
posted by magstheaxe at 6:44 AM on October 16 [2 favorites]

I made my holiday fruitcakes a few weeks ago, and they are wrapped with brandy in a dark cupboard right now, doing their thing...
posted by suelac at 8:31 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]

Won't they be a bit young? I have memories of Christmas cake baking around Easter.
posted by scruss at 9:12 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]

I suppose, but I've never really done them earlier than September. They come out pretty nice anyway.
posted by suelac at 9:42 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]

Immature Christmas Cake is perfect for 2020. Will do some shopping.
posted by theora55 at 9:50 AM on October 16 [2 favorites]

Life stuff (and an enduring existing supply!) means that I won't be making my usual annual Christmas cake this year, which I normally gift to friends I know that like it. I was given some by a friend many years back and almost turned my nose up at it, but knew that this particular friend had good taste so ate some and wow, life-changing. I like this recipe. I think I have the end of a loaf in the fridge right now that is probably three years old? And it's still delicious.
posted by urbanlenny at 10:30 AM on October 16 [4 favorites]

We buy a Christmas cake every year from a Lancashire baker. We tried giving them to friends, but they all recoil as if it were a Hillshire Farms fruitcake. They don't know what they are missing. Filled with blackcurrants and topped with marzipan frosting.
posted by acrasis at 11:19 AM on October 16 [3 favorites]

The Dundee cake looks yummy. Glacé cherries, just, no. So icky to me. More for the rest of you. Enjoy!
posted by Bella Donna at 11:22 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]

I still have a little bit of the last Christmas cake my mum made before she passed in the fridge. It still smells good, but I can't bring myself to consume the last reminder of her life. She mailed me a Christmas cake from the UK to the US every year after I left. Each one was properly booze soaked and delicious.
posted by monotreme at 11:46 AM on October 16 [9 favorites]

Hmmm. My mom's chocolate fruitcake recipe kind of just appeared on the table the other day (likely fell out of a cook book I was perusing). I think it's a sign. I can start soaking the cherries. The only thing is - last time I made it I used way too much alcohol - I think I got over-zealous basting it over the loaf. Any advice on how to use the right amount?
posted by kitcat at 11:48 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]

I bake two every year and am psyching myself up for the big bake at the moment. One for Mr MMDP, who loves heavy fruit cake and one for my brother and his family. I do not like Xmas cake much, although I will take a slice if we're out of anything more to my liking. I think I've had one too many burnt / bitter versions as a child, although baking my own means I get to taste the batter, which is delicious and also raw.

However ... last year's alcohol of choice was a whisky sample that a Scottish neighbour gave us as a gift many years ago and despite not being a whisky drinker (or a drinker of alcohol at all really) I got to taste a delicious Highland malt that was smooth and almost sweet, completely unlike anything I'd tried before. Good to soak dried fruit in for a week, anyway.

Looking forward to reading all the recipes before I get baking - I don't stick to just one, although we have had the Delia one(s) a few times. Can't go wrong with Delia sez I. So maybe this year's version is somewhere upthread.

If anyone has a foolproof recipe for rock hard, break-your-teeth royal icing, please do spill - apparently my late MiL used to make it like that and Mr MMDP has to put a brave face on every time his fingers break through the thin crust to the sugary goo beneath, which is all I have ever managed.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 12:48 PM on October 16 [3 favorites]

As I wrote once on the blue, my late grandmother's fruitcake was light and airy and sweet and perfect. I knew someone in university who was looking for a good recipe for Christmas cake, so I allowed that Grandmother Biscuit was a dab hand at it. He asked if I could get the recipe for him. I called my grandmother:

"Hi, Gram, I was wondering if I could get your fruitcake recipe?"

"All right, but I warn you, it can be a lot of work."

"That’s okay."

"Okay," she said, "first you need a half-pound of raisins." I wrote this down. "Then you slice each raisin into thirds.” I stopped writing.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:11 PM on October 16 [6 favorites]

Anyone have experience with an egg-free version? Also milk-free? Ok fine vegan.
posted by sophrontic at 2:30 PM on October 16 [2 favorites]

One of the best innovations I came across for cooking my Christmas case was to bake it in a wooden cake box. Yes, a wooden one. The box is made from the New Zealand native timber kahikatea. I am not quite sure what the special qualities of this type wood are, but it is quite "neutral" and doesn't have any smell. It was widely used to ship butter overseas from New Zealand back in the day. The natural moistness of a rich Christmas cake really works well with this type of timber. Of course, it is a slow cook, starting at 160°C/320°F for the first half an hour, and at 120°C/250°F for the next four or so hours. To clean the cake box afterwards, you just brush it out.

I got mine from The Wooden Cakebox company here in New Zealand. But when checking their page just now, I see they can't get a suitable source of timber, so have none currently available.
posted by vac2003 at 7:18 PM on October 16 [3 favorites]

The Dundee cake looks yummy. Glacé cherries, just, no. So icky to me. More for the rest of you. Enjoy!

That's the beauty of making your own! You can put in real (ideally dried!) cherries if you want. I like the glacé ones partially because they are so horrifying but my friend who originally gifted me a cake had a similar aversion and switched them out.

I am always impressed when I make mine at just how much fruit is in it. My recipe has surprisingly little actual batter.
posted by urbanlenny at 7:56 PM on October 16 [4 favorites]

UrbanLenny: I am always impressed when I make mine at just how much fruit is in it. My recipe has surprisingly little actual batter.
Proper order: the flour+eggs+butter is just the mortar for the fruity bricks. Then again it's probably about 50:50. My weights:
eggs 10 butter 8 flour 8 sugar 6 = 32
fruit 32 nuts 7 = 39 but half the nuts are ground so cd play on team mortar
posted by BobTheScientist at 7:04 AM on October 17 [2 favorites]

My beloved Bien Fait Cakes ceased operation at the end of last year (a portent of 2020's many evils). If anyone has a recipe that approximates their Amaretto Nut Teacake or Brandied Fruitcake, I would be VERY much obliged.
posted by cyndigo at 11:35 AM on October 17 [1 favorite]

« Older Startup founders set up hacker homes to recreate...   |   Leading scientific publications issue... Newer »

You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.